From a series of 12 paintings
PRESS RELEASE (2002 solo show at Jan Baum Gallery, LA, CA)
Jan Baum Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition of the Russian-born painter, Eugene Yelchin.
Raised and educated in St. Petersburg, Yelchin's approach to painting is concerned with the history of art, which involves a continuous re-examination of the canons of European and American painting. The result is a rare degree of craftsmanship by the artist.
Although the idea of craftsmanship is linked with past traditions, Yelchin's creative process is given direction by the future. By invoking the unexpectedness and immediacy of the painting act, Yelchin subverts the dogmas of both figurative and abstract art. Painting and repainting the same work over a period of several years, Yelchin handles paint freely, loosely, creating thick and buttery surfaces more often with fingers than brush.
Yelchin's deep felt commitment to and subversion of the history of painting brings to life canvases that are unforeseen, ambiguous and entirely new.
I'm an image worshipper. I have long made the image take the place of the thing.
Aaron was my father's name. And like the Hebrew sculptor Aaron, the maker of the golden calf, my father helped me to affirm the images as idols.
But what alternative did we have, my father and I? Everything was taken away from us in Soviet Russia -- our ethics, our morality, our faith. Our center was emptied out. What replaced this emptiness? Images laden with ideological control and domination. It was easy to lead us.
The only place that survived this ideological cleansing was the art museum. Religiously, my father, Aaron, led me to Rubenses, Velasqueses, Rembrands. We stood in awe. The images had unchecked power. They fascinated and seduced.
In no time I supplanted the dreaded "everyday" by inhabiting the mental corridors of the museum. This is how I survived.
Every image I now make draws from these mental corridors. Thus each image is linked to the past -- but also to the present and the future.
Their link to the past is in the memories of other paintings, of my father's presence, of the museum filled with the hushed worshippers.
The link to the present is in every image's struggle to subvert my debt to the Christian cannon, and to explode Aaron's golden calf, which is to engage the possibility of Jewish painting.
Each one of my pictures is a microcosm of other images and thus linked to the future as it already carries other images that will be inspired by this one.
Consequently, what is the source of my art? It's in the struggle to step out of the mental corridors and to live in the "everyday." My source is in my future.